Fishing Charter Vs. Fishing Boat Rental

A charter fishing boat heading out

One of the most common dilemmas for anglers that are ready to get out on the water is whether to charter a boat or rent a boat. The fishing charter vs. fishing boat rental discussion is a popular one in the world of fishing, but there are some key benefits that can help you decide which of these is the best model for you, your budget, your family, and your desires. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the fishing charter vs. fishing boat rental. 

What Is A Fishing Charter?

A fishing charter is a way that professional anglers will be able to bring customers out onto the water and help them catch fish. Fishing charters can be on oceans, lakes, or even canals. The fishing charter captain is an expert in the local area and knows exactly where and when to catch fit. Most of the time, fishing charters are paid for by a half day or full day set rate. 

What Is A Fishing Boat Rental? 

The fishing boat rental allows you access to a boat of choice, and you are typically able to go within a certain radius while using this fishing boat rental. When on a fishing boat, you will be permitted to catch fish using your own equipment. A fishing boat rental requires a person that is comfortable driving a boat. 

Fishing Charter vs. Fishing Boat Rental 

When looking at the fishing charter vs. fishing boat rental, one of the things that stands out is the pricing. Many people believe the fishing boat rental is a better deal as it typically comes with a lower price tag. However, there is quite a bit more to consider about this situation. Fishing boat rentals may have a lower price tag, but that doesn’t explain the whole story. 

Type of Boat 

If you owned a fishing boat rental business, do you think you would take the nicest, newest, most pristine boats and let them out on the water with people you have never met before? Boating is dangerous, and it requires skill. Expect that the fishing boat rental won’t be the nicest boat you have ever been on. 

Charter owners and captains, on the other hand, are trying to make their boats as appealing as possible. This will only help them book more charters and have repeat guests out on the boat. Most fishing charter boats are comfortable and fully equipped with everything necessary to succeed out on the water. 


Fishing charters provide all of the equipment necessary for a successful trip on the water. The equipment will include everything from fishing poles to the lures needed to catch certain types of fish. 

Depending on where your fishing charter takes place, the boat could have electric fishing reels, downriggers, and outriggers. This is thousands of dollars worth of equipment that you will not have with you when you get a fishing boat. 

In addition, the equipment that fishing charter captains have on board their vessels is more premium quality. This means you will be set up to catch a fish right from the start. When you only have a certain number of hours on the boat, this is a really important benefit to consider. 

Where To Find Fish 

The premium you pay for a fishing charter is the knowledge and experience of the charter captain. There is no denying the fact that these guys are experts, and they know the area better than anyone. When you spend all day every day out on the water, this will come naturally. 

Finding fish is something that takes time and experience. When you rent a boat, your chance of finding fish quickly may not be that good. There are things to know about the local area, where the fish are at times, and how the tide impacts that. 

If you know an area well, a boat rental may be fine. However, for those new to an area finding fish is a real challenge. With a fishing charter, the quest to find fish is much more targeted. Before you even get on the boat, your fishing charter captain will have a plan for exactly where your charter will take you that day. 

The quicker you can get on your first fish, the more memorable of a day you will have on the boat. This is the goal of any charter owner. 


It is very easy to check the certifications and experience of a qualified fishing charter captain. There are typically reviews in the local area, and people have experiences that they can share about their time on the boat. These fishing charter captains cover the costs of all insurance necessary for your fishing charter excursion. 

However, when you are taking a fishing boat rental, and the boat is in your hands, chances are you will be subject to quite a bit of liability. The fishing boat will likely have an additional liability policy that you must purchase before you take the boat out. 

In addition, if you are not aware of the area, there are issues that could come up with the boat, and you may not be able to fix them. Having to be towed by a company like Sea Tow out of an area because you hit a sandbar on your boat rental will certainly come with increased costs. 


When you go on a fishing charter, you can spend your time catching fish and enjoying being out on the water. However, when you rent a fishing boat, it will be on you to drive the boat, navigate and try to find the fish. For some people, this comes naturally. 

However, there are others that would rather take a break and enjoy what the local area has to offer. Having a trusted captain take you to a fishing spot and put you on fish is, without a doubt, a luxury. When looking at the pricing of the fishing boat rental vs. fishing charter, make sure that you consider this. 

Chances are, the price you pay for the charter captain will be well worth it. 


In addition to the equipment, if you want to catch fish, you must have bait. In some areas, the best bait is caught prior to fishing. When you are going to take a fishing charter, the bait will be handled for you. The captain will be set up and ready for you before you even walk down the dock. 

For a fishing boat rental, you must add in the costs of bait and consider where you will source it. Some marinas have a small bait shop; others will require you to source your own. 

Fish Cleaning 

At the end of a day on the water, you will hopefully have a cooler full of fish to take home. When you have chosen to take a charter boat, the deckhand will clean and filet all of your fish for you. You will leave the dock with a piece of fish you can throw on the grill when you get home. 

Fishing boat rentals typically do not offer this service. If you catch something within the legal limit, you are allowed to keep it, but you must clean and filet the fish yourself. This is a time-consuming process and will likely take up a good portion of your time when you get off the boat. 

Again, this just shows another convenience that you get when you invest in a charter instead of a fishing boat rental. 


We have already talked about how equipment, insurance, and even bait will be extra costs that you must consider with a fishing boat rental. However, there are other things to consider as well. The biggest of these is fuel. 

Fuel is an additional cost that you must factor in when doing a fishing boat rental. If you plan on taking a boat for a day and running offshore, you may have a hefty fuel bill at the end of your trip. If, however, you take a charter, the fuel will be wrapped into the total price for the trip. 

In the end, you still pay for a bit of fuel either way, but many people look at the sticker price of a boat rental and a fishing charter, and they get thrown off. The fishing charter will require a tip, but outside of that, there are no additional costs. Fishing boat rentals have several added costs to bring the cost closer to the charter price. 

Which Is Better Fishing Charter vs. Fishing Boat Rental? 

Most people will agree that the fishing charter is the better choice when deciding between a rental and a charter. However, the fishing charter does come at a higher cost. If you look at the benefits that you receive after paying this slightly higher price, chances are you will see that the fishing charter is worth the money. Try to do some thorough research on a local area. The best charter captains in an area can also be found using the HookM website


In the end, you must pick a fishing boat charter or fishing boat rental that works for your needs and your budget, There is no perfect choice, but the fishing charter does offer quite a few key benefits that you will not find from a fishing boat rental. We encourage you to try both the charter and the fishing boat rental. You will likely see some of the same benefits and negatives described.

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